Neil Dawson: why BMP’s Tony Cox is my ad hero

Nissan United’s top creative chooses a great creative editor and manager as his Ad Hero.

When Clive Pickering and I returned from South Africa in 1997 we did the rounds in London looking for a full time job. We saw everyone, the book was going down well, but still nothing.

Then we went to see Jeremy Craigen at BMP DDB. He asked to keep hold of our book to show to Tony. Two days later we got a call from Jeremy – Tony wants to meet you.

We arrived at 12 Bishops Bridge Rd and waited in reception. Within a few minutes Tony himself (left) came to fetch us. We went back to his office via Mary O’Tea’s kitchen, where we made ourselves a cuppa. Tony’s office was tiny. We took him through our work. He was quite impressed.

“I quite like your work…but I love your story” he said. “Fancy coming in from Monday to help us with the Labour Party?”

Tony gave us our big break, so of course he’s our hero. He had such humility that we adored him even more. But it was the culture he created at BMP that is the reason why I’ve chosen Tony as my Ad Hero.

We unwittingly walked into a department that was bursting at the seams with talent. But it was the way Tony managed that talent that made BMP such a special place. Tony had no time for ego. He had no time for posturing and politics.

That spirit permeated through the department. It resulted in a group of people who were fiercely competitive but also incredibly loyal and collaborative.

It was all about the work.

I remember a senior writer fundamentally changing one of our ads for the better and then categorically refusing to have their name down as a credit.

Tony was not interested in personal glory but made sure everyone got the credit they deserved. The output (below, from the whole department) spoke for itself.

It was a magical time to be there and I consider myself privileged to have been a part of it.

The postscript is that after our three-month trial Tony was told there wasn’t the money to hire us. “Try again.” he told Finance, “If they leave, I leave.”

Neil Dawson (below) joined Nissan United at TBWA\Chiat Day as global ECD in May last year.

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